On the Origin of Afterlife Beliefs by Means of Memetic Selection

In Keith Augustine & Michael Martin (eds.), The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life After Death. Rowman & Littlefield (2015)

Abstract
Somewhere in the mists of the past, we somehow picked up the idea of an afterlife from our culture. So, where did this idea come from in the first place? The problem is not that there aren’t any plausible theories to explain it; the problem is that there are too many. Some claim that the belief in an afterlife is wishful thinking; others that it’s a way of encouraging socially desirable behavior; and others still that it represents ancient people’s best effort to explain strange phenomena such as dreams. More recently, it has been suggested that afterlife beliefs are the handiwork of evolution by natural selection, or byproducts of various evolved psychological capacities. According to one approach, afterlife beliefs are products of natural selection, but not natural selection operating on genes or any other biological entities. Instead, afterlife beliefs are products of natural selection operating among ideas or memes. 1. A Plethora of Theories - 1.1 Wishful Thinking - 1.2 Social Glue - 1.3 Social Control - 1.4 Primitive Science -- 2. Evolving an Afterlife - 2.1 A Spandrel in the Works - 2.2 Afterlife Beliefs as Selfish Memes -- 3. Why Go There?
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Evidence or Prejudice? A Reply to Matlock. [REVIEW]Keith Augustine - 2016 - Journal of Parapsychology 80:203-231.

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